Nothing Trumps Water: Why it must be Bernie or Bust

The race for the Democratic presidential nomination is proving to be rip-tear-claw between old-school Democrats who still talk as if the US is a democracy (Hillary Clinton supporters), those who understand that the United States of America is now a corporate oligarchy (Bernie Sander’s people), and the Democratic National Committee and Wall Street, who appear hell bent on getting Clinton elected at all costs.

Bad River Watershed

The Bad River Watershed in the Penokee Hills on the shores of Lake Superior.

Many old-school Dems still can’t say the words “corporate fascism,” even the ones who watched the corporations, led by the Koch Brothers, take over Wisconsin in 2011 and begin draining the State of all its wealth. The crowning gem was to be the Penokee Hills and Lake Superior, the lavish watershed in the north that represents 20% of the last of the world’s fresh water. US Steel had rejected the low-grade iron ore here in the 1960s. But a billionaire coal mining kingpin from West Virginia named Chris Cline had his sights set on the Penokees for his first-ever iron ore venture.

Unknown to us (but not for lack of trying), lawyers for the mining company, Gogebic Taconite (GTac), were allowed to write a new ferrous mining bill. Headed by a man who we later learned was fleeing prosecution in Spain for ruining the water of 300,000 Spaniards, GTac had their lawyers write a bill that threw out every protection for the people, water, air, economy, and democracy. Despite overwhelming opposition from every corner of the state, the corporate abusers got their wish and the bill passed. GTac moved forward with their plans for their 22-mile mountaintop removal open-pit iron ore mine on the shores of Lake Superior.

GTAC armed security forces in northern Wisconsin. Photo: Rob Ganson

GTAC armed security forces in northern Wisconsin. Photo: Rob Ganson

Long story short, the good guys prevailed—this time. GTac finally gave up in February 2014—iron ore prices were dropping all around the world, Native Americans were exercising their Treaty Rights, and opposition to the mine was at 92%. After three years of lying about how pure the ore was and how safe their process would be, they now declared that mining the Penokees was not “feasible.”

What might have been the real nail in GTac’s coffin, however, were documents released from a second John Doe investigation that revealed illegal campaign coordination going on between Gov. Scott Walker’s office and GTac around a $700,000 campaign donation. The first John Doe sent six of Walker’s associates to jail for embezzlement, money laundering, child enticement, and staffers mixing state business with campaigning to get Walker, then a Milwaukee county executive, elected to governor. The Wisconsin Supreme Court, dominated by cronies of Walker and the Kochs, declined to hear the second case. Why should they? Several of them were heavy Walker donors. But three of the five attorneys fighting the case appealed, and JD II is now headed for SCOTUS.

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Fast forward to the race for the 2016 Democratic Presidential nomination. Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, joined the Democratic Party and launched his people-powered campaign, taking most of his donations from individuals and firing up an otherwise lackluster Democrat party with a grassroots “revolution.” The lone Bernie “Super Pac,” National Nurses United, stated that they support Bernie because their mission aligns with his as they cover the front lines of US healthcare.

Sanders record on environmental protections is stellar, and earned him a 100% rating from the League of Conversation Voters in 2015, with a 95% rating for his lifetime career as an elected official.

While Clinton gets an 82% lifetime rating from the same group, her activities in the US and around the world in relation to corporate abusers is a staggering report that few in mainstream media are covering, and even fewer democratic supporters are willing to acknowledge.

According to Mother Jones, in 2009 Clinton traveled the world promoting fracking as Secretary of State. She appointed David Goldwyn as her special envoy for international energy affairs:

Goldwyn had a long history of promoting drilling overseas—both as a Department of Energy official under Bill Clinton and as a representative of the oil industry. From 2005 to 2009 he directed the US-Libya Business Association, an organization funded primarily by US oil companies—including Chevron, Exxon Mobil, and Marathon—clamoring to tap Libya’s abundant supply. Goldwyn lobbied Congress for pro-Libyan policies and even battled legislation that would have allowed families of the Lockerbie bombing victims to sue the Libyan government for its alleged role in the attack.  

October 16, 2013, Children in Pungesti blocking the access of the heavy machinery that arrived at the fracking site. Photo: Frack Off Romania

October 16, 2013, Children in Pungesti blocking the access of the heavy machinery that arrived at the fracking site. Photo: Frack Off Romania

The details of her international crusade were disturbing enough, but for me personally it was a nauseating moment to realize what Hillary Clinton was doing to my friends in Romania. While I was fighting off GTac, I was in contact via social media with Maria Olteanu and a group of Romanians who were going through a similar corporate takeover of their resources in Pungesti, a small, poor section of northeast Romania that is rich in fracking shale gas. Much like the Chippewa in northern Wisconsin and our Harvest Camp, Romanians were camping out and putting their bodies between their water and the fracking pumps that were sent into the area. Police were eventually called in to remove the protesters.

Hillary Clinton was personally responsible for this. This was not some distant foreign policy decision; this was the Secretary of State traveling to Romania and bringing Chevron and their money with her to push fracking on my friends there. In return, Chevron rewarded Hillary Clinton with hundreds of thousands of dollar for the Clinton Foundation, as well as bundling donations for her 2016 presidential run:

The two Clinton bundlers also were part of a much-criticized campaign by Chevron to manipulate Congress into inserting language into the Andean Trade Preferences Act that would require Ecuador to dismiss a longstanding lawsuit against the company for polluting the Amazon jungle. — Politico, November 16, 2009

But perhaps even more horrifying are her ties to the mining company that is responsible for the Brazilian mining disaster in November 2014. A dam burst at a BHP Billiton-owned iron ore mine in the Rio Doce region and 50 million tons of highly toxic mining waste were unleashed. Brazil is calling it the worst environmental disaster in its history.

The search for bodies and survivors was slow. Mudslides knocked out roads and cellular towers, covered houses, upturned cars, smothered wild and farm animals in their paths, cut off drinking water for a quarter-of-a-million people, and raised health and environmental concerns in cities more than 186 miles downstream.  — The Guardian, November 25, 2015

The government of Brazil is suing BHP Billiton for billions.

An aerial view of the Rio Doce (Doce River), which was flooded with mud after a dam owned by Vale SA and BHP Billiton Ltd burst, at an area where the river joins the sea on the coast of Espirito Santo in Regencia Village, Brazil, November 23, 2015. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

An aerial view of the Rio Doce (Doce River), which was flooded with toxic sludge after a dam owned by Vale SA and BHP Billiton Ltd burst, at an area where the river joins the sea on the coast of Espirito Santo in Regencia Village, Brazil, November 23, 2015. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

BHP Billiton was part of a group of 13 major corporations that donated to the Clinton Foundation as they were lobbying the State Department while Clinton was Secretary of State. BHP wanted the US government to protect its mining interests in Gabon, Africa, where it was meeting fierce resistance by concerned Gabon residents. The iron ore deposit was situated within Gabon’s Ivindo National Park, a rainforest home to forest elephants, western lowland gorillas, and chimpanzees.

Clinton’s hands are also deep in the uranium mining that is now being foisted upon the southwest. The Havasupai Tribe, along with several environmental groups, have been fighting a Canadian mining company on a long-contested uranium mine with plans go forward near the Grand Canyon. Energy Fuels Inc, a Canadian mining company, is now suing for their right to mine.

In 2013, a group of Canadian mining industry execs donated millions to the Clinton Foundation. They were in the process of building and eventually selling off a corporation known as Uranium One to Russian interests, which gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. Uranium One’s chairman donated $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation while they were lobbying for the deal under Clinton’s Sate Department. And despite an agreement with the Obama administration that she would disclose all donors, Clinton did not. After Reuters found the error, Clinton was made to re-file five years of tax returns on how they were reporting all their donations.

Energy Fuels Inc. mine just south of the Grand Canyon. Photo: Bruce Gordon/Ecoflight, via Center for Biological Diversity

Energy Fuels Inc. mine just south of the Grand Canyon. Photo: Bruce Gordon/Ecoflight, via Center for Biological Diversity

Uranium One eventually became Rosatom, the corporation now taking legal action against the US government in order to mine the Grand Canyon. The Havasupai and other groups are in the fight for their lives to protect themselves and their water, thanks in part to Clinton’s willingness to go along with the original deal. While no direct evidence of campaign coordination has been uncovered, it is nonetheless a disturbing situation which reveals the deep international corporate pockets Clinton relies on. Even without evidence of “pay-to-play,” it is clear that these multinational corporations support Clinton because she naturally believes in their cause.

While the list goes on of Clinton’s support of corporate domination, her shepherding the Trans Pacific Partnership is perhaps one of the most frightening aspects of her power. Up until it was clear the TPP might threaten her chances to win the White House, she called it the “gold standard” of trade deals. The TPP would allow, among other horrors, lawsuits from foreign corporations doing business in the US against our environmental laws. Say a Chinese corporation bought land in Wisconsin and wanted to open a 100,000 hog Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) that stood to destroy the watershed of the community and people rose up to protect themselves. The TPP would allow the foreign corporation to sue the local unit of government for all of its potentially lost revenue and challenge any environmental laws that stood in the way of their profits.

Right now the United States is in a fight for its democratic soul and its clean water, both of which are being stolen by international corporations. Hillary Clinton is leading the charge, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and the Democrats who support her are aiding and abetting this corporate takeover of our government. The list of Democrats who support Clinton is staggering, and yet, few of any will acknowledge this dark and insidious aspect of her political ambition.

Here in Wisconsin, as long as the corporate abusers were aided by Republicans, the Democrats were outraged. But when one of their own displays such blatant disregard for the democratic process as the DNC has in this election, is financed by the same Wall Street CEOs who should be in jail for almost crashing the entire world economy in 2008, and is in bed with mining companies that are known destroyers of water around the world, they turn a blind eye. It literally boggles the mind.

For this reason, many Bernie supporters have taken the pledge, Bernie or Bust, as a way to fight off the plutocracy of a Clinton win:

Plutocrats’ purchase of our government is the root of all our political evils, and as the only major-party candidate who’s called for a political revolution against plutocrat money, Bernie Sanders is the only adult in the room, the only candidate utterly free from the influence of that money, and the only one with a viable platform for ridding us of it. Therefore, he’s the only major-party presidential candidate worth voting for. As solicitors of billions of plutocrat dollars, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush don’t even register on our radar as serious candidates. And we have a strong bias against other Democrats and Republicans, because their party leadership makes it virtually obligatory for them to accept oligarch dollars. As a lifelong independent scarcely funded at all by corporate dollars, strategically forced to run as a Democrat, Bernie alone has our trust. If he doesn’t win the Democratic nomination—and if he fails to, it will be due simply to party propaganda we aim vigorously to counteract—we plan to write him in in the general election. In states where write-in votes aren’t counted, we plan to simply vote Green.

The “lessor of two evils argument” falls to pieces as we look starkly at Clinton’s allegiance to corporate abusers, and her all-out war against the water for the sake of profits. Bernie Sanders is the only candidate, indeed, one of the few elected officials who understands and will fight against corporate abuse. Without this, it won’t matter which “evil” wins: one path will be the slow death by a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the other a faster, more transparent descent into complete domination by the 1%.

For these reasons and so many more, no one but Bernie will do.

 

 

 

 

 

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